St. Mary’s stands on the perimeter of the Parish. The land was given unconditionally by Edward Carlyon the owner of Tregrehan House at that time, in a conveyance dated 9th July 1847. This was the area, 240 feet from east to west and 170 feet from north to south, locally known as Biscovean. The land included a quarry adjoining the same on the south, (which we believe to have been situated where St. Mary’s Car Park now stands) and a wood or plantation adjoining the eastern side of the quarry.
There is a gate on the west side of the churchyard where the servants from Tregrehan House entered the churchyard after walking across the fields to attend church services and is still there today, albeit a little dilapidated.
The new church was consecrated on 1st November 1849 and the burial ground surrounding the church on 26th May 1857. Additional burial ground was consecrated on 20th March 1909.
The church was commissioned in 1846 by the first Vicar of Par, the Reverend George Rundle Prynne. Prynne was also a pioneer of the Anglo-Catholic Movement and later became famous as Vicar of St. Peter&s Plymouth.
St. Mary’s was built mainly from the reddish coloured Biscovey slate, taken from the adjacent quarry, the architect preferring to use local materials where appropriate, The general effect of the exterior created by Street, is picturesque and a revival of the medieval.
The quoins, or corner stones, are hewn from Pentewan stone brought from the cliffs near Mevagissey, a stone that was used locally in the 13th and 14th centuries and described by Nikolaus Pevsner “ as mellow and loveable even today”. Pevsner, in The Buildings of England, also describes the church as “a remarkable work for a beginner, of a freshness and charm not always aimed at or achieved by Street”.
The most impressive aspect of the church is the square tower with broached octagonal belfry (containing one bell) and stone spire, standing at the west end of the south aisle. Looking almost primitive in its vigour, St. Mary’s tower is a brilliant adaptation of basic forms observed in the two Cornish medieval steeples at Cubert and Lostwithiel. The plan of the church comprises a chancel, nave and three bay south aisle, each having a separate gabled roof. Early descriptions of the church suggest the original seating to be 360. The porch was an addition some time after 1886 and would seem to have been merely a separated area using wood screens much the same as it is today and could have originally been a seated area.
Regrettably, the stone used in the construction of the tower was so porous that the tower has constantly leaked during long periods of rain and water ran down the interior surfaces of the tower. The situation has been a constant concern since construction in 1849 and has reached critical proportions in 2017 when the parish was advised that major renovation work was needed to ensure the continued stability and safety of the tower. It was assessed that the remedial work could take up to 6 years at an estimated cost of £350,000. A grant of £198,600 was obtained from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
A £100,000 fund raising drive was initiated in 2018, which met its target in July 2020 The remaining balance being donated by three local business’s and personal donations.
The extensive repairs to the tower & spire and to the external walls of the church building were signed off in January 2020, with the total building works completed in June.
Photographs of the work in progress can be seen in 'Photographs of Recent Events'.
The church is no longer on Historic England's 'At Risk Register'.